A Birdwatcher’s experience

The following article came from Ate Maia of Wild Bird Club of the Philippines after the successful 9th Philippine Bird’s Festival held on Zamboanga City last March 1, 2014. I chose to include this on my blog since our pictures were featured on the bottom-most part of her Blogspot article entitled: “Daydreaming about Zamboanga”.

Wedensday, March 12, 2014

It has been 10 days since I came home from the 9th Philippine Bird Festival in Zamboanga City and I still daydream about the many fun moments we had there.

The annual event spearheaded by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and in partnership with the Department of Tourism Region IX, and the Zamboanga City local government was held last February 28 to March 1 at the Paseo del Mar.

This year, I was able to help out in the lectures in the morning and then do the Bird Quest for the kids in the afternoon. I really enjoyed the lectures, listening to friends and experts share what they know about various topics on Philippine biodiversity. Jops and I were also able to give our own lectures during the festival, which was a lot of fun! Fifteen minutes is quite a short time to talk! =P

That’s me giving a lecture to high school students on migrating waterbirds
Photo by Willem Van de Ven
Jops gives a lecture on nature photography for college students

The grade schoolers who attended the Bird Quest in the afternoon were very enthusiastic and participative. I really enjoyed the opportunity to teach and share the joys of birdwatching to them and had fun doing the spiels with Tinggay and Anna =)

Aside from the lectures, another event worth daydreaming about was when Mr. Pedro Gonzales, co-author of A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines, gave a talk and signed our field guides!

Mr. Pedro Gonzales talking about his bird observations – in taxonomic order!
Photo by Jops
It was such a privilege listening to him
Photo by Jops
Our signed book!
I was able to have a very short chat with him and I told him that we all felt privileged and honored to meet him. His reply: “The feeling is mutual!” He reminded me of my Lolo Boy in Cebu =)
After the excitement of meeting Mr. Gonzales, an opportunity to help guide in the nearby ZSCMST* fishponds opened up! It was a very short walk from the Paseo del Mar and soon Jops, Luke, Jason, and I were at the viewdecks, showing the birds in the area to the students who were there.
Part of the ZSCMST viewdecks (so cool they built this!)

And there were lots to see! Of course, our bins were automatically drawn to the cluster of nesting Great Egrets which makes the fishponds an important birding site. The occurrence of breeding Great Egrets there is a great subject for further study!

There were quite a number of nests with chicks!
With a fluffy chick peeping out the nest!
There was also a number of foraging Black-winged Stilts
And adult and juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons (this one is a juvenile)

I also got a lifer while guiding! I saw my first dark phase Eastern Reef Egret! Sadly, it didn’t go out into the open but flew into the dense mangroves to hide. But I did get a good look at the whole bird as it glided out of sight.

Aside from the the delicious food I ate, the awesome birds I saw, and the good friends I was with, it was all the great people I met during the bird festival that made it all the more memorable. And so, I will continue to day dream about those wonderful days I spent there, until the time I can go back again =)

Posing with the very enthusiastic new birders in the fishponds!
Photo from Van John Tompong
Jops with some of the students who attended his lecture
Photo from Van John Tompong
Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology
Indeed ’twas a great experience. Being a Bachelor of Science in Biology in the making, adds to the fun of doing “Bird-watching”. We all know that the country boasts on its richness on the diverse species of animals, and Zamboanga City is definitely one of it! I hope to see more of organizations like this. As they promote the preservation (as well as identification) of these animals, they also tend to inspire young people in promoting LIFE, at its best.
9th Philippine Bird's Festival



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